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MWC: Qualcomm Unviels Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner



/ 2 years ago

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At Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm is showing off Sense ID, a new technology that brings ultrasonic fingerprint scanning to mobile devices. The main advantage of ultrasonic fingerprint scanning is that because it uses sound waves, it doesn’t require direct contact with your finger. This means the ultrasonic sensor can be underneath the device’s front cover glass or potentially underneath the display itself. Now fingerprint scanners aren’t breaking news in the mobile market. Previous iterations include the iPhone 5S with Touch ID. This system, along with all current scanners, require physical interaction with the scanner; pretty annoying if it’s cold and you have gloves on. Golves are a pretty extreme example, the scanner could be made unusable by even water, lotion or dirt; so dry clean hands all round.

This new ultrasonic scanner uses high-frequency sound waves to scan your finger, penetrating relatively large obstacles, like the aforementioned gloves scenario. This scanner uses similar technology to that in the medical sector, just not as powerful, yet. This means that the scanner could potentially scan deeper than just the top layer of skin and retrieve even more biometric data.

“At Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm is showing off a prototype smartphone with Sense ID beneath the front cover glass. When I asked whether Sense ID could be placed beneath the display—so that you could scan your finger by simply placing it on the screen, just like in all the movies—I got a noncommittal response that is best transcribed as “I don’t see why not.””

Now Qualcomm can’t take all the credit here, back in 2013 the company acquired Ultra-Scan; who already had a similar technology developed for use by the US government. Now that may sound a little alarming, the US government seem to want to harvest as much data as possible, but Qualcomm has made clear that your biometric data is secured to the device via its hardware-level SecureMSM tech; no cloud data snatching here.

Sense ID is compatible with all recent Snapdragon SoCs, including the upcoming Snapdragon 820, but there aren’t any immediate products being released with this technology, the earliest indication is Q3 2015.

Thanks to ArsTechnica for supplying this information.


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